Low-Level Laser Therapy Activates NF-kB via Generation
of Reactive Oxygen Species in Mouse Embryonic
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Chen, Aaron C-H. et al. “Low-Level Laser Therapy Activates NFkB via Generation of Reactive Oxygen Species in Mouse
Embryonic Fibroblasts.” Ed. Wafik S. El-Deiry. PLoS ONE 6
(2011): e22453.
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Low-Level Laser Therapy Activates NF-kB via Generation
of Reactive Oxygen Species in Mouse Embryonic
Aaron C-H. Chen1., Praveen R. Arany1,2,3,4., Ying-Ying Huang1,5,6, Elizabeth M. Tomkinson1,7, Sulbha K.
Sharma1, Gitika B. Kharkwal1,5, Taimur Saleem1,8, David Mooney4, Fiona E. Yull9, Timothy S. Blackwell9,
Michael R. Hamblin1,4,10*
1 Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America, 2 Programs in Leder Human Biology and
Translational Medicine, and Biological Sciences in Dental Medicine, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America, 3 Program in Oral and
Maxillofacial Pathology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America, 4 Harvard School of
Engineering and Applied Sciences, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America, 5 Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts,
United States of America, 6 Aesthetic and Plastic Center, Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, People’s Republic of China, 7 Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts,
United States of America, 8 Aga Khan Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan, 9 Department of Medicine and Cancer Biology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine,
Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America, 10 Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America
Background: Despite over forty years of investigation on low-level light therapy (LLLT), the fundamental mechanisms
underlying photobiomodulation at a cellular level remain unclear.
Methodology/Principal Findings: In this study, we isolated murine embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) from transgenic NF-kB
luciferase reporter mice and studied their response to 810 nm laser radiation. Significant activation of NF-kB was observed
at fluences higher than 0.003 J/cm2 and was confirmed by Western blot analysis. NF-kB was activated earlier (1 hour) by
LLLT compared to conventional lipopolysaccharide treatment. We also observed that LLLT induced intracellular reactive
oxygen species (ROS) production similar to mitochondrial inhibitors, such as antimycin A, rotenone and paraquat.
Furthermore, we observed similar NF-kB activation with these mitochondrial inhibitors. These results, together with
inhibition of laser induced NF-kB activation by antioxidants, suggests that ROS play an important role in the laser induced
NF-kB signaling pathways. However, LLLT, unlike mitochondrial inhibitors, induced increased cellular ATP levels, which
indicates that LLLT also upregulates mitochondrial respiration.
Conclusion: We conclude that LLLT not only enhances mitochondrial respiration, but also activates the redox-sensitive NFkB
signaling via generation of ROS. Expression of anti-apoptosis and pro-survival genes responsive to NFkB could explain many
clinical effects of LLLT.
Citation: Chen AC-H, Arany PR, Huang Y-Y, Tomkinson EM, Sharma SK, et al. (2011) Low-Level Laser Therapy Activates NF-kB via Generation of Reactive Oxygen
Species in Mouse Embryonic Fibroblasts. PLoS ONE 6(7): e22453. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022453
Editor: Wafik S. El-Deiry, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, United States of America
Received February 10, 2011; Accepted June 28, 2011; Published July 21, 2011
Copyright: ß 2011 Chen et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits
unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funding: This work was supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant R01AI050875, Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology
(DAMD17-02-2-0006), CDMRP Program in TBI (W81XWH-09-1-0514) and Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9950-04-1-0079). The funders had no role in
study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
* E-mail: [email protected]
. These authors contributed equally to this work.
is a chromophore that absorbs light as far into the infra-red as
1000 nm [4]. There have been reports of increased cytochrome c
oxidase activity after LLLT [5] and many reports of increased ATP
synthesis after light delivery to isolated mitochondria [6]. Additional
evidence of the role of cytochrome c oxidase as a chromophore in
LLLT has been provided by action spectra studies from Karu’s
laboratory in Russia [7] and from Eells and Wong-Riley in Wisconsin
[8]. Many genes have their transcription upregulated (or down
regulated) after illumination of cells with various wavelengths and
fluences of light. For instance, illumination of human fibroblasts with
628 nm light emitting diode led to altered expression of 111 genes (68
up, 43 down) that can be sub-categorized into 10 functional groups [9].
Low level light (or laser) therapy (LLLT) has been used for more
than forty years to promote healing, reduce pain and inflammation,
and prevent tissue death [1,2]. Despite many basic and clinical
reports, the therapy remains controversial largely due to uncertainties about the fundamental molecular and cellular mechanisms
responsible for transducing signals from the photons incident on the
cells to the biological effects that take place in the irradiated tissues.
It has been reasonably well established that mitochondria are a
principal intracellular target of red and near-infra-red light [3].
Cytochrome C oxidase (unit IV of the mitochondrial respiratory chain)
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LLLT Activates NF-kB via Generation of ROS
p65 as early as 5 minutes post light and were maintained for 30
minutes further validating the luciferase reporter results.
Nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) is a transcription factor
regulating expression of multiple genes [10], and has been shown
to govern various cellular functions, including inflammatory and
stress-induced responses and survival [11]. NF-kB activation is
regulated by negative feedback mediated by IkB, an inhibitor
protein that binds to NF-kB, but can undergo ubiquitination and
proteasomal degradation [12], thus freeing NF-kB to translocate to
the nucleus and initiate transcription [13]. NF-kB is a redoxsensitive transcription factor [14], that has been proposed to be the
sensor for oxidative stress [15]. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) can
both activate NF-kB directly [16], and ROS are also involved in
NF-kB activation by other stimuli such as tumor necrosis factor
alpha (TNFa), phorbol ester, and interleukin (IL)-1 [17]. Several
laboratories have observed the formation of ROS in cells in vitro
after LLLT [18,19,20,21], and it has been proposed that ROS are
involved in the signaling pathways initiated after photons are
absorbed by the mitochondria within cells [22].
In the present report, we describe the effect of light from an
810 nm laser on mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) isolated from a
transgenic NF-kB luciferase reporter (HLL) mouse [23]. These mice
have been genetically engineered so that luciferase expression is
driven by the NF-kB-dependent portion of the human immunodeficiency virus-1 long terminal repeat. They have been used to carry
out molecular imaging using a bioluminescence camera of
inflammation after various stimuli such as tumor necrosis TNFa,
lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and IL-1 [24]. We reasoned that these cells
would be ideal to test the hypothesis that LLLT activates NF-kB to
mediate various downstream biological processes.
Laser increases ROS production
Many groups have reported the increase of cellular reactive
oxygen species (ROS) after LLLT in vitro [19,25,26,27,28,29].
Since one of the important initiators of NF-kB activation in several
cell types is known to be via ROS generation [15], we checked to if
ROS were increased after laser irradiation at varying fluencies in
our MEF NF-kB Luc cells using fluorescent reporters namely,
CM-H2DCFDA, MitoTracker and DAPI (Fig. 2A). While 0.03 J/
cm2 gave little fluorescence above background (data not shown),
0.3, 3 and 30 J/cm2 gave a robust increase in green fluorescence.
Since the primary source of ROS within cells is superoxide
generated in the mitochondria [30], we used the MitoTracker Red
to demonstrate co-localization of the laser generated ROS with
CM-H2DCFDA as evidenced by the overlay (Fig. 2A). Quantitative validation of this result was performed with the Amplex
Ultrared assay that demonstrated increased ROS generation at the
three fluences used (Fig. 2B).
Laser increases ATP synthesis
To test if the NF-Kb Luc MEF respond to 810 nm laser
irradiation with increased ATP, we first irradiated the cells with
fluences varying over 5 orders of magnitude (0.003 to 30 J/cm2) and
measured ATP levels over time. The results measured at 5 minutes
post-light showed no increase with 0.003 J/cm2, a small increase at
0.03 J/cm2 and a large increase that formed a plateau with fluences
of 0.3, 3 and 30 J/cm2 (Figure 3A solid line). The time course of
ATP increase reached a peak immediately after a 5-minute
irradiation and gradually declined to baseline levels in 6 hours
(Figure 3B). To confirm specificity, we pre-incubated the cells for
2 hours with sodium azide and deoxyglucose, widely used as a
mitochondrial inhibitor and an inducer of chemical hypoxia [31], in
the media and then performed laser irradiation and observed ATP
generation. The metabolic inhibitors not only lowered the baseline
levels of ATP but also made the cells unresponsive to the laser
induced ATP generation (Fig. 3A dashed line).
Activation of NF-kB by laser in vitro
We used an agonist of toll-like receptor 4 signaling, the bacterial
product lipopolysaccharide to confirm activation of NF-kB
activation in the isolated primary MEFs. The results (Fig. 1A)
show an increased NFkB expression at 6 hours following LPS
addition that increased further till 10 hours before returning to
baseline at 24 hours. We then irradiated cells with 0.3 J/cm2 of
810 nm laser and measured luciferase response at the same time
points (Fig. 1B). We observed a distinct NF-kB luciferase increase
as early as 1 hour post-laser and the responses at 6, 10 and
24 hours were similar to those seen with LPS. The light fluence
response of NF-kB measured at 6 hours is shown in Fig. 1C (solid
line). We observed the strongest signal at 6 hours with 0.3 J/cm2
but the luminescence decreased somewhat (but was still significantly above baseline) when the energy density was higher. To
confirm that the luminescence increase measured was due to the
increased expression of luciferase enzyme activated by NF-kB
binding to the HIV long terminal repeat alone and not a direct
effect of laser irradiation on the transgene, we pre-incubated Luc
MEF with the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide (10 mM
for 2 hours) and then laser irradiated with same power densities
and measured the luminescence at 6 hours. We observed that after
cycloheximide, luminescence at all fluences was depleted to a
steady level, about 30% of baseline level (Fig. 1C broken line).
NF-kB activation proceeds via phosphorylation of its inhibitor,
IKK a/b which leads to its ubiqitination and degradation, thus
allowing phospharylation of the p65 subunit which then translocates
to the nucleus to induce specific gene expression. To confirm that
these biochemical pathways are activated by LLLT, we performed
western blot analysis of MEF cell extracts at 5, 15 and 30 minutes
after treatment with 0.3 J/cm2 of 810-nm laser, and with different
fluences (0.3, 3, and 30 J/cm2) at 15 minutes (Fig. 1D). We observed
the distinct phosphorylation bands of both IKK a/b and NF-kB
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Mitochondrial inhibitors increase ROS and NF-kB
activation but not ATP
We tested three mitochondrial inhibitors that have all been
reported to induce intracellular ROS by blocking the normal flow of
electrons in the mitochondrial respiratory chain[32,33,34]. We
reasoned that if the mechanism of LLLT activation of NF-kB was via
generation of ROS, then these mitochondrial inhibitors should be
able to activate NF-kB as well. We observed that all the inhibitors
after 2 hour incubation showed NF-kB activation at the 6-hour time
point (Figure 4A). Paraquat and rotenone showed similar NF-kB
activation perhaps due to the fact that they are both complex I
inhibitors, and antimycin A, a complex III inhibitor, induced the
strongest activation. We also measured ATP changes in the cells with
these inhibitors and found that, in contrast to 810 nm laser, they
depleted ATP as might be expected from their ability to inhibit
mitochondrial respiration by cutting electron transport at various
sites (Figure 4B). Figure 4C-F confirms that these inhibitors increased
ROS levels in MEF cells as determined by increased fluorescence
intensity of CM-H2DCFDA at 30min following treatment.
Antioxidants abrogate NF-kB activation but not ATP after
To further confirm that the activation of NF-kB is due to lasergenerated mitochondrial ROS we pre-incubated the antioxidants,
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LLLT Activates NF-kB via Generation of ROS
Figure 1. Laser activates NF-kB in MEF. (A) Time course of NF-kB activation measured by luminescence after addition of 0.5 ug/mL of LPS (B)
Time course of NF-kB activation after 0.3 J/cm2 810-nm laser irradiation. (C) NF-kB measured 6 hours post irradiation with a wide range of 810-laser
fluences and effect of protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide. * p,0.05; ** p,0.01 compared to baseline. (D) Immunoblotting for Phospho NFkB
and IkB a/b following laser irradiation of MEFs at 0.3 J/cm2 over time (upper panel) and at various fluences 0.3, 3 and 30 J/cm2 at 15 min (lower
panel) was performed. Normalization for protein loading with Actin is shown.
illuminated cells. Our results indicate that activation of NF-kB
after 810 nm laser light is mediated via ROS generation. The fact
that the addition of antioxidants abrogates the activation of NF-kB
provides additional evidence that ROS are involved in the
activation of NF-kB. There are both similarities and differences
between the cellular effects of NIR laser and inhibitors that
produce mitochondrial ROS by inhibiting complexes of the
respiratory chain. Both laser and mitochondrial inhibitors produce
ROS and activate NF-kB, but laser increases ATP while the
inhibitors decrease ATP. The fact that antioxidants do not
abrogate the ATP increase suggests that the action of light
increases electron transport, which in the absence of antioxidants
can cause increased electron leakage producing superoxide.
The very wide range of fluences (3 orders of magnitude between
0.03 and 30 J/cm2) that gave positive NF-kB activation suggests
N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) and ascorbic acid and performed
LLLT and luciferase assays. The results shown in Fig. 5A showed
that both ascorbate and to a lesser extent NAC significantly
reduced the laser induced increase in NF-kB activation but had no
significant effects on the control. We then asked whether the
antioxidants had any effect on the laser-induced increase in ATP.
As seen in Fig. 5B neither pre-incubation with NAC (nor ascorbate
- data not shown) did not have any effect on the increased ATP
generation following laser irradiation at 0.3 J/cm2.
This report has demonstrated for the first time that low levels of
near-infrared laser light can activate NF-kB in primary MEF cells.
We confirmed reports from other laboratories [19,25,26,27,28,29]
that visible (and NIR light) can induce expression of ROS in
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LLLT Activates NF-kB via Generation of ROS
Figure 2. Laser increases ROS in MEF. (A) MEF were treated with 810 nm laser at varying fluencies 0, 0.3, 3 and 30 J/cm2 and ROS generation was
measured with CM-H2DCFDA (green). Mitochondrial localization is demonstrated with MitoTracker Red (red) and overlay (yellow) while cell nuclei
were strained with DAPI (blue) (B) Amplex Ultrared assay demonstrates quantitative increase in ROS following laser irradiation at varying fluences.
* p,0.05.
response to infections (toll like receptor signaling) and cytokines
is based on degradation of IkB inhibitors. This pathway depends
on the IkB kinase (IKK), which contains two catalytic subunits,
IKKa and IKKb. IKKb is essential for inducible IkB phosphorylation and degradation, whereas IKKa is not. IKKa is involved
in processing of the NF-kB2 (p100) precursor. IKKa preferentially
phosphorylates NF-kB2, and this activity requires its phosphorylation by upstream kinases, one of which may be NF-kB-inducing
kinase (NIK). IKKa is therefore a pivotal component of a second
NF-kB activation pathway based on regulated NF-kB2 processing
rather than IkB degradation.
that the phenomenon is akin to a switch being turned on after a
minimum light dose in the region of 0.03 J/cm2 has been
delivered as has been observed with other LLLT induced
biological processes such as latent TGF-b1 activation [35]. The
time course of the laser-induced NF-kB activation we observed
appeared to be significantly different from that observed with
conventional LPS activation [36]. Following laser irradiation, we
observed significant activation at 1 hour while LPS did not show
any significant increase until 6 hours. It has been recently
discovered that there are (at least) two NF-kB activation pathways
[37]. The canonical NF-kB signaling pathway activated in
Figure 3. Laser increases ATP synthesis in MEF. (A) ATP increase measured at 5 min post LLLT with wide range laser fluences and effect of
mitochondrial inhibitors (sodium azide/deoxyglucose). (B) Time course of ATP increase after 0.3 J/cm2 810 nm laser. * p,0.05; ** p,0.01 compared
to baseline.
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LLLT Activates NF-kB via Generation of ROS
Figure 4. Mitochondrial inhibitors increase ROS and NF-kB activation in MEF but reduce ATP. (A) NF-kB activation measured at 6 hours
after 2 hour incubation with 100 mM inhibitors, (B) ATP levels measured after 2 hours incubation with 100- mM inhibitor. * p,0.05; ** p,0.01
compared to control. Inhibitors (100 mM) were added for 2 hours and CM-H2DCFDA was used to measure ROS generation at 30 min (C) control, (D)
antimycin A, (E) rotenone, (F) paraquat.
Recent work has identified protein kinase D (PKD, formerly known
as PKCn) as a mitochondrial sensor of oxidative stress [38]. It was
reported that low dose hydrogen peroxide (250-nM) led to tyrosine
phosphorylation at Tyr463 on PKD and the enzyme’s consequent
activation [39]. This activation of PKD then led to activation of IKKb,
followed by IkB degradation and NF-kB activation [40]. The pathway
did not depend on IKKa nor on NF-kB inducing kinase (NIK) [39].
Considering the fact that NF-kB is known to be a redox-sensitive
nuclear transcription factor [15] it is reasonable to conclude that
laser induced NF-kB is due to the ability of the laser to produce
mitochondrial ROS. The primary ROS generated in the
mitochondrial electron transport chain is superoxide, which is
destroyed by superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD converts
superoxide to a freely diffusible molecule, hydrogen peroxide that
Figure 5. Antioxidants abrogate laser-induced NF-kB activation in MEF but not ATP increase. (A) NF-kB measured 6 hours post
irradiation of cells incubated 2 hours with 1 mM N-acetyl cysteine or 100 mM ascorbic acid. (B) ATP measured after 2-hour incubation with 1 mM
N-acetyl cysteine. * p,0.05; ** p,0.01 compared to control.
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LLLT Activates NF-kB via Generation of ROS
(Madison, WI). Bradford protein assay (BCA) was from Pierce
Biotechnology Inc (Thermo-Scientific, Rockford, IL).
is capable of oxidizing membrane lipids to lipid peroxides that
then oxidize the dihydrofluorescein probe [41].
Karu et al. proposed a novel mitochondrial signaling pathway
in mammalian cells initiated by red and near-IR light in vitro in
2004 [42]. One hypothesis to explain the effect of NIR light on
cells is the absorption of the photons by cytochrome c oxidase
(CCO), which is unit IV of the respiratory chain [6,42,43]. The
action spectrum of light on several cellular functions has been
observed to closely resemble the absorption spectrum of CCO
[7,8]. One theory that has yet to be conclusively be demonstrated
is that nitric oxide can be photodissociated from CCO [44]. NO
is known have a function as a regulator of respiration [45]. Hu et
al. [46] showed that He-Ne laser illumination increased
mitochondrial membrane potential together with ATP synthesis
in melanoma cells. They also observed upregulation of cytochrome c oxidase activity, increased phosphorylation of Jun Nterminal kinase (JNK) that later activated activator protein-1 (AP1) which, in turn, led to increased cell proliferation. He-Ne laser
irradiation in isolated mitochondria has been shown to promote
O2 consumption by cytochrome c oxidase and increase electron
transport [5].
NF-kB is a highly pleiotropic transcription factor [47] that
induces expression of many gene products associated with known
beneficial effects of LLLT. For instance anti-apoptotic and prosurvival proteins, proteins involved in cellular proliferation and
migration and increased collagen synthesis and myofibroblast
differentiation respond to NF-kB activation [48].
One interesting point that arises from our results is that NF-kB
activation is known to be pro-inflammatory [49] while numerous
reports indicate that LLLT has a pronounced anti-inflammatory
effect. Recently Mafra de Lima et al reported [50] that the
beneficial effects of LLLT in reducing inflammation in rat
bronchial segments could be abrogated by a NF-kB inhibitor. A
report by Moriyama et al [51] showed that LLLT increased
inducible nitric oxide synthase expression in a mouse model of
arthritis consistent with NF-kB activation. Another possibility is
that the initial response to cell stress typical of NF-kB activation
induces a productive response that includes lower NF-kB
activation when measured at a later time point when the light
has had a therapeutic effect. It is also possible that the initial proinflammatory response after LLLT induces expression of eicosanoids such as resolvins designed to end inflammation [52].
A limitation of our study is that we only showed laser-induced
NF-kB activation in fibroblasts. It is possible that other cell types
particularly those involved in inflammatory responses may show a
different pattern of NF-kB activation after LLLT.
Cell isolation and culture
Timed pregnant female HLL (NF-kB luciferase reporter) mice
[23] were used in the study. The animals were housed with a 12hour light/dark cycle with access to food and water ad libitum.
Mouse embryonic fibroblasts (Luc MEF) were isolated from
embryos removed from pregnant mice between day 13 and day 15
according to the protocol described by Sun and Taneja [53]. The
cells were then cultured in Dulbecco’s-modified Eagle’s medium
(DMEM) (Gibco, Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA) supplemented with
10% fetal bovine serum (Hyclone, Waltham, MA) and 1%
penicillin-streptomycin (Gibco, Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA), in 37uC
incubator. For all the experiments, cells were grown to about 80%
confluence before seeding to 96 well plates and only the cells
between passage 3 and passage 8 were employed.
Laser irradiation
The experiments were conducted with a diode laser (Model
D030-MM-FCTS/B, Opto Power Corp, Tucson, AZ), which
emits 810 nm near infrared radiation. Power densities generated
in a round homogeneous spot of diameter 3-cm were measured
with a power meter (Model DMM 199 with 201 Standard head,
Coherent, Santa Clara, CA) and ranged from 1 mW/cm2 to
30 mW/cm2. Light was delivered for times varying from 7 seconds
to 5 minutes to deliver different energy densities, namely 0.003,
0.03, 0.3, 3 and 30 J/cm2. Wells were irradiated in blocks of 3 X
3cms by use of a mask covering the plate.
Assessing ROS generation
Cells were plated in chamber slides (Nunc, Thermo-scientific,
Rockford, IL) and incubated in 37uC incubator overnight, washed
three times with PBS, and then changed to a PBS solution (with
calcium and magnesium) (Cellgro, Manassas, VA) with 10 mM
CM-H2DCFDA, 500 nM MitoTracker Red and 300 nM DAPI
(Molecular Probes, Invtirogen, Carlsbad, CA) for 15 min and
mounted on the microscope stage. In one experiment CMH2DCFDA was added at different times after illumination and
incubated for a further 30 min in every case to determine kinetics
of ROS generation following laser irradiation (data not shown).
Laser irradiation at various fluencies were performed on the
samples and immediately imaged for fluorescence using an
inverted fluorescence microscope (Olympus IX81, Centerway,
PA) with a spinning disc laser system (BD Carv II, BD Biosciences,
Franklin Lakes, NJ) with equal exposure times and images were
collected with IP lab (Ver 4.0, Exton, PA).
For Quantitative ROS measurements, the Amplex UltraRed
(Moelcular Probes, Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA) was used. Briefly,
the cells were seeded in a 96 well black walled plate with clear
bottoms (Costar, Corning, NY) and laser irradiated at varying
doses followed by addition of PBS (with calcium and magnesium)
(Cellgro, Manassas, VA) with 100 mM Amplex Ultrared and
0.2 U/ml Horse radish peroxidase (both Molecular Probes,
Invtirogen, Carlsbad, CA) for 30 min. Fluorescence was measured
using a microplate reader (Synergy HT, Bio-Tek, Winooski, VT).
Materials and Methods
Ethics statement
All animal procedures were approved by the Subcommittee on
Research Animal Care (IACUC) of Massachusetts General
Hospital under protocol number 2009N000006 and met the
guidelines of National Institutes of Health.
2-Deoxy-L-glucose, sodium azide, cycloheximide, antimycin A,
rotenone, N-acetylcysteine, ascorbic acid, lipopolysaccharide from
Escherichia coli and penicillin-streptomycin were from SigmaAldrich (St Louis, MO). Fluorescent probes 5-(and 6) chloromethyl-29,79-dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate acetyl ester
(CM-H2DCFDA) and MitoTracker Red were from Invitrogen
Molecular Probes (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA). Steady-Glo Luciferase Assay and Cell Titer Glo ATP Assay were from Promega
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Luciferase Assay for NF-kB activation
MEFs were plated in a 96 well plates (Costar, Corning, NY)
with 3000 to 5000 cells per well and were treated with either
LLLT or 0.5 mg/mL LPS, washed with PBS and at lysed with
50 ml passive lysis buffer (Promega, Madison, WI) at various time
points post treatment. Lysates were transferred to 96 well white
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LLLT Activates NF-kB via Generation of ROS
plates and substrate was added (Promega, Madison, WI) to assess
luciferase activity with a microplate reader (Synergy HT, Bio-Tek,
Winooski, VT). The remaining lysate was used in a Bradford assay
(BCA Assay, Pierce Biotechnology Inc, Thermo-Scientific, Rockford, IL) to estimate total protein content for normalization.
Cycloheximide (10 mM) (Calbiochem, EMD Biochemicals, Gibbstown, NJ) was added 2 hours before treatments to inhibit protein
Cell-Titer Glo Assay for ATP
MEFs were plated in a 96 well plates (Costar, Corning, NY)
with 3000 to 5000 cells per well. At the various time points
following LLLT, 50 mL cell lysis buffer was added and plates were
placed on shaker for 2 minutes to ensure completely release of
ATP. 95 ml lysates were then transferred to luminescence 96 well
plates (White plate, Costar, Corning, NY) and 100 mL of CellTiter Glo Assay mix was added into each well, shaken for 5
minutes to stabilize the luminescence signal and measured with a
plate luminometer (Wallac Tri-Lux beta, PerkinElmer Life and
Analytical Sciences, Waltham, MA). 5 ml of the lysate was used to
estimate total protein (BCA Assay, Pierce Biotechnology Inc,
Thermo-Scientific, Rockford, IL). Another set of cells was
incubated with 5 mM 2-deoxy-L-glucose and 0.05% sodium azide
for two hours before laser irradiation to inhibit ATP synthesis. In
some experiments, antioxidants N-acetylcysteine (1 mM) and
ascorbic acid (100 mM) were added for 2 hours before laser
Following laser irradiation, cells were washed with cold PBS and
lysed (175 mM NaCl, 25 mM HEPES pH 7.4, 10% Glycerol,
5 mM EDTA, 1% Triton X, 50 mM Sodium Fluoride, 5 mM
Sodium Orthovandate) with Complete Mini Protease inhibitor
(Roche). The cells were then scarped using a plastic cell lifter,
transferred to labeled microfuge tubes and spun at 14000 rpm at
4uC for 15 min. The clear supernatant was transferred to a fresh
tube and total protein was estimated by Bradford assay (BCA
Assay, Pierce Biotechnology Inc, Thermo-Scientific, Rockford, IL)
and electrophoresis was performed with precast Tris-Glycine gels
(Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA), transferred onto 0.2 mm nitrocellulose
membranes (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA), blocked with 3% bovine
serum albumin (Sigma-Aldrich, St Louis, MO) and incubated with
primary antibodies Phospho-NFkB (Ser 536), Phospho IkB a/b
(both Cell Signaling, Beverly, MA) and Actin (Chemicon)
overnight at 4C followed by appropriate species-specific secondary
antibody (Jackson ImmunoResearch Laboratories Inc, West
Groove, PA). Following rigorous washes with Tris Buffered Saline
and Tween, chemiluminescence substrate (Pierce Biotechnology
Inc, Thermo-Scientific, Rockford, IL) was added to the membrane
and detected by films (Kodak MR, Sigma-Aldrich, St Louis, MO).
Statistical Analysis
All assays were performed in multiple wells (n = 9) and
Microsoft Excel (Redmond, WA) software was used for SingleFactor ANOVA to evaluate the statistical significance of
experimental results (p,0.05).
Author Contributions
Conceived and designed the experiments: PRA DM MRH. Performed the
experiments: AC-HC PRA YYH EMT SKS GBK TS. Analyzed the data:
PRA MRH. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: FEY TSB.
Wrote the paper: AC-HC PRA MRH.
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Low-Level Laser Therapy Activates NF-kB via Generation Fibroblasts